zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Monday, September 19, 2011

Zine Recommendations from Hannah Reads Zines

Sixteen Zine Recommendations

My deepest apologies for the delay in updating this blog, it has certainly not been intentional and I hope that readers have not given up on it. I can now reveal the reason behind my silence … my partner and I are having a baby in early March! Whilst this is happy and exciting news I have unfortunately been suffering very badly with morning (noon and night) sickness and haven’t been able to do much except sleep, read and watch TV for a few months. I am into the second trimester now and hopefully passing through this sickness stage, so expect more updates here and some new zines soon. In the meantime I hope you enjoy this bumper post with no less than sixteen zine recommendations!

Before I move on to the recommendations, I’d just like to cheekily plug my new-ish etsy shop, where you can buy all my currently in-print zines.


Buy Her Candy #1
By Bettie (UK) bettieriotATgmail.com
Buy Her Candy #1 is the latest zine from Bettie, of Anatomical Heart fame. Bettie opens by explaining that Anatomical Heart is dead as she doesn’t want to write about mental illness anymore, or at least not her own (she is a student mental health nurse). I’ve always loved Bettie’s writing style and eye for layouts (using lots of pretty and vintage imagery) and it is lovely to see them again here, 10 months after the final issue of Anatomical Heart came out. Bettie discusses a variety of interesting topics including body hair and her choice to shave, marriage/civil partnership, hoarding and moving house. There’s also a very sweet section where she reveals several of the things she loves about her girlfriend. As ever with shorter zines I couldn’t help wishing Buy Her Candy #1 was a bit longer than its 24 pages, but that’s just my greediness. A positive, cute and fun read, which makes some serious points along the way.

Dig Deep #3 / Your Secretary 10

By Heather (US) indicativeATgmail.com (Dig Deep) & Jami Sailor (US) yoursecretaryzineATgmail.com (Your Secretary)

This is a very enjoyable and well-written split zine on the topic of library-love. Both writers are employed in libraries, and share their love (mostly) for their jobs with wider experiences of using libraries and choosing to work in the profession. There are also amusing stories about library-related happenings, and on Heather’s side the story of how she began to create a public zine library at her workplace.
(You can read an interview I did with Heather here.)

Ellipsis #1
By Sarah-Beth (UK) kittenesqueATgmail.com
I had been following the progress of Sarah-Beth’s zine for quite some time, through Twitter and our letters, so was very excited to receive a finished copy a couple of months ago; and Ellipsis did not disappoint! Sarah-Beth opens by saying that she has been planning to make a zine for “what feels like the longest time” but has felt held back by procrastination and worries that the zine wouldn’t live up to expectations. I think (almost?) all of us zinesters have been there, and it was good to hear these thoughts voiced out loud, as it were. Sarah-Beth also discusses about her relationship with food, and her thoughts on the good/bad dialogue that often surrounds our food choices; cycling again after 10+ years without it (and in a city, too) and being brave and going to things alone, rather than missing out on them. She also includes some album reviews (something more zines could do with IMHO, mine included) and everything is very prettily and neatly presented, with clear thought and attention. The only thing I wish was a wee bit different about Ellipsis is that it was longer than 24 quarter-sized pages, but as has been well-documented here, I have a personal preference for longer zines.

Fanzine Ynfytyn #9
By Emma (UK) emmajanefalconerATgmail.com

Another fun, whimsical zine from Emma. I chose this issue to review from the large pile of Fanzine Ynfytyns I am fortunate to have in my possession, because, somewhat self-absorbed-ly, I could relate to a fair bit of it. Emma shares what she is on the look on for in charity shops (my own list: typewriters, old books and maps I can cut up for collages; frames and unusual knitwear), pays tribute to those 2p machines you get in arcades (my devotion goes so deep as to have a replica one of these) and reviews the progress she has made with her childhood ambitions (very similar to mine and including a desire to have her artwork appear on several late 80s/early 90s kids’ TV shows). She also talks about the time she didn’t dance with Kathleen Hanna and ponders what amoebas have to worry about (more than you may imagine).
(You can read an interview I did with Emma here.)

Here. In My Head #9
By Cath (UK) contactATcatherineelms.co.uk

Cath’s zines are a fantastic example of combining the personal with the political, as she combines her own thoughts, observations and experiences with wider feminist issues. Here. In My Head #9 sees Cath switched on, intelligent and occasionally righteously angry, and is a nice long read bound to keep you entertained for a while and to leave you with plenty to think about. My favourite section was that on “Anti-Feminist Bingo” in which she systematically and logically rebuffs some frequent statements made against feminist views, such as “Why not equalism?” and “You feminists all hate men”. There are also articles on technology, in which Cath ponders our reliance on it and her attempts to spend at least an afternoon a week free of technology; and thealogy – very educational from my point of view as I know nothing about the topic and enjoyed learning about the various goddesses Cath described. Elsewhere in the zine are some shorter pieces including some lists (always good) and unsent notes (something my nosy side enjoyed). Cath has put a lot of time into the layouts here, and this shows – no two two-page spreads are the same.
(You can read an interview I did with Cath here).

Kankedort #0

By Kagey (Canada) nerdturdATgmail.com

Kagey sent this along with a trade we organised for her zine Echo! Echo!, and I have to say, whilst I enjoyed both zines, this “24 Hour Zine Thing Zine” was my favourite. Mostly because it is a letters zine, and I adore letters zines. Even when I know none of the people to whom the writer is addressing their (un)sent letters to I love getting an insight into their character and the dynamics of the relationship they have with whoever they are writing to. I’m just nosy I suppose. Layout-wise Kankedort #0 is attractive, with typewritten text and a variety of bold backgrounds (many of which feature stars, yay!).

Larry #4
By Lee (UK) dis_connectedAThotmail.co.uk

I have guilty owed Lee a letter for far too long now, and reading the latest issue of his zine, undoubtedly one of my favourite current UK zines, reminded me that I need to get my butt in gear regarding it. Anyway, this zine is written in Lee’s characteristic considered and humorous style, with plenty of asides and meandering thoughts stemming off the main stories, accompanied by his stylish and original illustrations. Topics of choice for Larry #4 include jobseeking and the difficulty of making a living from your passion (in Lee’s case, illustration) when there aren’t many open avenues to paid employment within it; playing sports (definitely an under-represented topic in the world of zines), walking and tricky train journeys. There’s also a tutorial on stretching paper, an ode to backpacks and lots of shorter pieces of (generally humourous) observations of Lee’s. A very enjoyable and apparently under-rated (or at least under-aware-of) zine.

Mix Zine #2: Favourite Females
By Fliss (UK) flisscATgmail.com

A mix CD and a zine – such a fantastic idea! Fliss has since made several more issues of this zine, but being a fan of female fronted music I had to pick this one to review first. All issues of Mix Zine consist of a mix CD wrapped up in an unfolding double-sided A3 zine all about the bands and songs featured. Fliss writes about why she personally loves these songs, how she discovered them and the feelings each piece of music evokes. Issues of Mix Zine are presented sealed so that the exact tracklist remains a secret, but to give you something of an idea of the variety of music represented here I will give a quick “spoiler” and say included among its 13 tracks are Mirah, Shonen Knife, Linolium, Shannon and Throwing Muses.

Mythologizing Me #3
By Ingrid (UK) mythologizingmezine.blogspot.com

Ingrid’s zines are fast becoming some of my favourites – honest, confessional perzines with lots of self-reflection (of the type that isn’t only about herself, but taps into wider issues) and cut and paste layouts. In Mythologizing Me #3 she discusses living with her family (the ups, the downs and coping strategies such as frequent weekends away), anxiety, photography, budgeting and job-hunting; amongst Enid Blyton, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and a love of horses. I believe many people would be able to relate to Ingrid’s job and living situation, and to her astute observations on the difficulty of being a young person and/or recent graduate in today’s job market. Ingrid uses a variety of different layouts and fonts (including a typewriter – always good!) and there are a few lyrical/musical references too (again, always good).

Pieces #6 : On Commuting
By Nichole (US) nicholeATillvision.net

After taking a year out of the 9 til 5 to focus on her writing, Nichole felt it was time for her to return to fulltime work. She secured a job in Chicago, which entailed a 55 mile journey (each way) via car, commuter train, city train and walking. Pieces #6 is an exploration of that commute, with the writing largely taken from a journal Nichole kept over the course of a few months. It’s an impressively long zine (over 80 quarter size pages) but the quality of the writing doesn’t suffer for this – you can tell Nichole is an experienced writer who puts a lot of effort into crafting sentences and maintaining a steady pace. I loved the layouts she created too – they incorporate maps, dirt, timetables and photographs of places Nichole saw along her commute, and add to the sense that spending so long every day commuting was claustrophobic and exhausting. The zine is loosely divided into sections based around weeks of commuting and themes to Nichole’s thoughts, and although the repetitive nature of commuting does come through in the writing at times it is never dull and she adds sparkle with her descriptions of others making the journey – for example an attractive guy who plays Valkyrie Profile every day.
(You can read an interview I did with Nichole here.)

Roots Of Hope #2
By Korinna (US) rockstarwithwordsATyahoo.com

Wow. Wow. Where to start with reviewing this zine? It’s one of those stupendous, long, packed zines that I feel incapable of describing in a way that will do it justice. It’s as fat as a book, and packed with words, photographs, collages and experiences. Simply put, Roots Of Hope #2 is an account of Korinna’s travels though Central America, taking in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize and Panama (there’s also a few pages of thoughts from when Korinna was in Ireland). Like a good travel zine should, reading Roots Of Hope #2 made me feel as if I was travelling alongside Korinna, and her writing made the places she visited feel vivid and alive. Korinna made an effort to get to know the local communities she stayed amongst, and this made for many interesting encounters and reflections on varying but often politically-related topics. Just read it.

Sometimes I’m Dreaming #6
By Lisa (UK) sometimesimdreamingAThotmail.co.uk

Lisa’s zines are undoubtedly among my favourites, and I always look forward to the latest edition to this beautiful, whimsical series of perzines. Sometimes I’m Dreaming #6 sees Lisa preparing to move away from her parents house, and taking several other large steps towards her future in volunteering at a charity shop and job-hunting. Her discussion of the latter includes an account of an interview for a job Lisa loved the sound of but was not successful in securing, and sadly (and anger-inducingly) it appears she was not given full consideration for the job once the manager learned she is a mother. Lisa’s account of volunteering is generally positive and displays the benefits she has gained from the experience (the sense of a job well done and increased confidence amongst others), however also demonstrates the sometimes exclusionary attitude of the other volunteers (something I could relate to, feeling that I have never fitted in at any workplace). Later in the zine there are accounts of Lisa’s summer activities of cycling, visiting country pubs and exploring Kew Gardens, accompanied by some pretty photographs. Sometimes I’m Dreaming is one of the most beautiful zines around, and this issue was no exception – butterflies and flowers dance across the pages amongst lacy background patterns and rubber stamped images. Lovely.
(You can read an interview I did with Lisa here.)

Tragic Boffin #1

By Donna (UK) tragicboffinATgmail.com

I’ll admit I’m a little biased on this one, because it’s the only Scottish perzine I’ve ever read apart from my own! But I’m sure I would have enjoyed it anyway, as there is a lot of good content in here. Donna is a woman after my own heart in that she would rather spend her evenings at home gaming and writing letters (amongst other things) than going out and getting wasted. In Tragic Boffin #1 she discusses body image, attitudes to money, mindfulness and books that have saved her life (amongst other, shorter pieces). I did feel that the zine would have benefited from being longer overall, but as previously mentioned that is my personal preference (probably because I’m a quick reader and can devour a short zine in less than three minutes).

xyz: Don’t Judge Us By Our Cover
By Will (UK) zisforzineAThotmail.co.uk

This is a fantastic, entertaining, informative and absorbing zine about sex, gender and gender presentation. Will covers a myriad of topics from the serious (pronouns, how to talk gender and an examiniation of homosexuality and gender identiy in the 18th century) to the perhaps slightly less so (haircuts, although these are presented in terms of how they can support a wish to present oneself as more masculine or femme). It’s an easy to read (although to say so isn’t to denigrate the complexity of the issues represented here – they are done so in a manner which is both intelligent and accessible), neatly presented zine and one which everyone should take the time to read and absorb.

Your Pretty Face Is Going Straight To Hell #15
By Tukru (UK) tukrulovesyouATgmail.com

I’ve never read an issue of this zine that I didn’t like, and #15 is a particularly good one! In it Tukru discusses her experience of getting a birth control implant (far more positive than my own experience of one was, I have to say) and her decision to drop out of roller derby. I must admit I was particularly nosily interested in the latter, as I was initially quite surprised to hear via Twitter that Tukru had quit, when it seemed to be an ever-increasing part of her life. But as is explained in the zine, roller derby had passed from fun hobby to strenuous, stressful chore, and when that happens, its time to get out. Later in the zine Tukru discusses her (positive) experience of attending Slutwalk London and her thoughts on rape culture. She also finds room in the zine to talk about her decision to remain taking anti-depressants for the time being, and to ponder her upcoming 29th birthday. All in all it’s a very enjoyable zine with all the best aspects of any issue of Your Pretty Face Is Going Straight To Hell – feminist thoughts, tons of text to read, a chatty, friendly writing style and countless original layouts.

You’ve Got A Friend In Pennsylvania #5
By Sari (US) youvegotafriendinpaATgmail.com

I was so excited to discover Sari had made another issue of hir perzine, and needless to say, You’ve Got A Friend In Pennsylvania #5 did not disappoint. It’s almost certainly the best 24-hour zine I’ve read – I never would have guessed it was made in such a short time if Sari hadn’t said so! Sari bases the writing of this issue on hir experience of working at an organic farmers co-op, and of challenging the racist and sexist attitudes ze encountered there. In doing so ze demonstrates how it is possible to call people out on such attitudes without confrontation and using methods such as humour; and on how to cope with such awkward situations without feeling constantly pissed off or that we are compromising our views by not getting into big debates all the time (I myself have found I often have to “let things go” in certain social/work-related situations for the sake of, to quote Sari, “not policing the statements made around me constantly”). A very thoughtfully and intelligently written, neatly put together zine.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog